Posted 29.02.12 in Writing
My eyes roamed my face
Well I say my face,
I could see my eyes,
Their dull, grey colour had been translated by the artist’s hand
No longer matt, they sparkled out of the frame,
And my cheeks were alight with a soft glow
I had never seen on my own skin.
I reached out and ran a long finger down my course face,
And the same finger stroked the smooth bumps of my handsome twin.
The crook in his nose was more subtle than mine,
The overhang less obvious
I stared enviously at his nose,
And his lips
Compared to mine,
Which mimicked the colour of peaches.
His smile too,
Was what I wished mine was
Turned up only at the corners;
It did not shout and scream,
But nor did it stare blankly.
I will be remembered like this.
They will gather round in galleries
They will stare at this masterpiece,
They will stare at me.
They will not run their hands over my skin, my hair,
I will be too delicate,
I will be precious,
And I will hide my identity,
Needless they find me,
Find I am not perfect,
I am not handsome,
Needless I be shunned from the museum,
And my beauty no longer marvelled at.
They will never know who I am
They will only guess,
They will only imagine.
Amy Carter wrote My Eyes Roamed My Face in response to Ross Sutherland’s ‘Imagined Lives’ challenge.
Ross Sutherland says: There’s a lot of relationships hidden inside a portrait: the relationship between artist and subject, between artist and viewer, between subject and viewer, and so on. All in all, it’s a pretty complicated transmission. It’s a dark glass, through which the notion of truth inevitably becomes abstracted. This bifurcation of art and truth has been a common theme amongst all the submissions to this exercise: the inadequacy of both brushstrokes and words to capture a sense of objective reality. There’s a lovely line on this subject in John Ashbery’s long poem, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror: “They seek and cannot find the meaning in music, / We see only postures of the dream.”
In Amy Carter’s poem, the sitter jealously regards his portrait, which he believes to be more attractive than he is. The artwork seems to contain more life, be more ‘real’ than the sitter. He imagines himself being shunned from the gallery (for not being handsome enough!), and fantasises about losing his identity entirely. By the end of the poem, we get to see art usurping life altogether: the painting becomes regarded as the ‘true’ person, whilst the sitter is lost in obscurity. It’s a heartfelt interpretation, and manages to deal with some big themes with a light touch.
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